A Travellerspoint blog

Wellington

rain 6 °C

Last night’s violent windstorm has left both us pretty cranky as neither of us slept at all last night. Chrissy was so terrified that the van was going to a)tip over or b)be crushed by the above tree branches that she just trembled all night long while Tom attempted to calm her down. We decided to call it quits on the wineries and make a beeline over to Picton to see if we could change our ferry sailing to later this afternoon. Thankfully, they were able to no problem and we just had a short hour’s wait before boarding the ferry.

This ferry is massive! It has two movie theatres, a loading process that BC Ferries would never be able to comprehend as it is that efficient, and trains get to cruise over too. Feeling poorly, we decided to splurge on the Kaputi Class, which meant a “special” lounge where we could just chill out on the three-hour trip. We also got snacks and free drinks. Tom was thrilled that they served alcoholic beverages and sampled some of the nation’s beers while Chrissy just sampled all the quiche and meat pies. Last night’s windstorm hasn’t quite left yet as it made the sailing a little bit rocky at points. Standing on the outside decks coming into Wellington, it was apparent that the wind was also going to be a nuisance as neither of us could stand it was so strong.

Once off the ferry, we got in touch with Miss Hayley who gave us directions to a holiday park close by. We then promptly forgot said directions and got slightly lost coming out of the inner city. We did eventually find the parking lot er holiday park and after a quick call, we were hanging out with Hayley and taking part in the most luxurious of activities: free laundry.

We spent the night hanging out with Hayley and her roommate, watching way too much Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice and other tantalizing NZ programs. As well, we were introduced to Burger Fuel that is a delicious/gourmet burger place that serves super delicious morsels of goodness. After acquiring the coveted season finale of Greys on DVD form, we headed back to the van-a-ram which we promptly turned into a Chinese laundry again, watched the season finale of Greys, cursed the months until the return of Greys, and went to bed!

Posted by tc2009 03:14 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Blenheim

rain 10 °C

NZ sure has a lot of infomercials and at quite unusual times of day. This morning over breakfast we were introduced to Zamba (the newest craze in fitness dvd) and Proactive commercials for a good hour and a half. By the time we left, Chrissy had just about convinced Tom they needed the Zamba DVD.

Our first stop was Blenheim to check out the local wineries. We had stopped at the iSite to find out which ones were good/open when two helpful guys who happened to work in the wineries told us which ones to check out. Of course, one can’t have wine without chocolate and that led us to Manaka Chocolates (similar to Purdy’s but BETTER) where we sampled various confectionary items and stocked up on goodies. Chocolate aside, we headed to our first stop: Saint Clare’s where we battled for parking, sampled a tasty pinot gris and indulged in some delicious lunch. Chrissy caved and had the pasta special and Tom had a ‘Monks Platter’, which was just bread, meat, cheeses, and fruit. Judging by the clear platter it was good.

Our next stop was Allan Scott, which we didn’t enjoy as much probably due to the fact that the lady in charge of tastings was a right piece of work and didn’t seem the least bit interested in us. Generally speaking, staring out the window while serving customers is not good for the winery. On this sour note (and Chrissy’s low alcohol tolerance) we decided to call it a day and escape back to town just as the clouds opened up. After stocking up on some essentials, we headed in search of a campground.

The first stop was at the location of the first trans-Tasman cable laid in the early 1900s but after a slight weather impediment, we decided to head back to the original DOC site we spotted earlier. Settling in for the night, we discovered in the process of making dinner that we had forgotten the much-needed taco seasoning for our tacos and thus incurred bland tacos. The wind is picking up something fierce and hopefully we don’t get carried away tonight…

Posted by tc2009 03:03 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Nelson

rain 14 °C

Last night we had a wicked crazy storm in which the rain came pouring down and the wind at times buffeted the van-a-ram like a bath toy. Tom tinkered with the van-a-ram to try to get the sink draining but nothing worked so he decided we should try emptying the cake and hopefully that would work. It did and apparently the tank was quite full! End conclusion? Something blocked the pipe and it just needed a lot of water to flush it out. Fab, so that problem solved we are off!

We drove into Nelson where by total fluke we located two hours of free parking which entitled us to plenty of exploring. After checking in with the iSite, we headed off to the factory outlet for some sheepskin where we lucked out for prices! We then wandered around downtown Nelson for a bit before deciding to head off towards Blenheim.

Not much different in the drive other than the sign advertising the services of a livestock psychologist! Do sheep have problems that require a pysch?! And another surprise for all, the roads were windy with more semi trucks than usual causing a very white-faced Chrissy for the majority of the drive. We stopped in Havlock ‘The World’s Capital of Green-Lipped Mussel” where we tested some of the local delicacy. Chrissy tested the mussel platter where she decided she wasn’t a big fan of smoked or marinated mussels but the steamed ones were delicious while Tom sampled the Mississippi Mud Pie and declared it a winner. The vote is still out on the lemonade, which tasted suspiciously like sprite.

We decided to take the side route to Picton via the Queen Charlotte Sounds, which was quite scenic and beautiful. When we made it to Picton, we stopped at iSite where the visitor counselor was incredibly unhelpful and pretty much useless. Because of this, we ended up going on our own campground tour to figure out prices. Ended up at a little campground 5km from the beach and after registering, we headed off to pick up some groceries. At the checkout, the cashier remarked about the earthquake earlier that day which apparently was 4.6 on the Richter Scale. Neither of us felt it so that’s good? Chrissy thought it was creepy though that all last night that’s all she could think about so Tom is planning on capitalizing her foresight and using her as a pre-earthquake indicator.

After Butter Chicken for dinner and Hokey Pokey Ice Cream for dessert, we watched New Zealand’s Next Top Model and went to bed! Tomorrow we are off to Blenheim for WINE!!!

Posted by tc2009 15:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Abel Tasman Kayaking

sunny 15 °C

Today is kayaking day!! Woke up bright and early and headed off to the kayak base where we met up with our guide, Josh, and our side kicks for the day, a couple from Paris. After a quick safety briefing we hopped on-board the water taxi which was attached to a tractor who then proceeded to tow us to the beach. Can’t say a tractor ever has towed either of us. When we got to the beach, the tractor drove INTO the ocean and launched us into the ocean with our kayaks tied securely to the back of the boat. Another first. After 30minutes of cruising up the coastline, we arrived at our destination – Oneatwotui (?) Beach. The water is surprisingly warm here and Chrissy was kind of disappointed she didn’t wear her bathing suit but Tom reassured her it was probably a good thing as it’s a federal offence to try and kidnap the seals. We grabbed our kayaks and regrouped on the beach before teaming up and paddling towards Tonga Island, home of the penguins & seals.

It was a beautiful day and the sea was calm making for an easy paddle. Tom lucked out with the front kayak spot and happily snapped pictures in between paddling. When we got to Tonga Island we found the seals to be quite active and inquisitive. The pups were especially playful and swam under & around our boats, floated beside us, and generally just goofed off. Chrissy even lucked out and saw the back of a little blue penguin hurry into its rock cave!

Unfortunately, Josh rounded us all up and set us on a course around the island. Once we finished our loop, we headed across the sea towards Bark Bay where we encountered a lone penguin fishing for his dinner while we were paddling for our lunch! We made a slight detour to Mosquito Bay where we paddled into a little lagoon where we took some photos and then began the intense paddle out of the lagoon. It was a little bit more difficult to get out but we persevered and managed to get out in record time.

After all our exploration it was time for lunch! Josh cooked us up a delicious dinner of squash soup, wraps, & mystery dessert bar with cappuccinos to boot! We cleaned up lunch, packed the kayaks back onto the water taxi, and set off on our jungle safari. Josh was quite chatty and told us all about the various plants and the area’s history which made the time fly by. Before we knew it, we were at the pickup point for the water taxi where we had to roll up the pants and splash through the water to the water taxi. It was a neat experience and on the way back, the driver detoured us past a rock that looked quite like a kiwi drinking out of the bay.

Once back at the beach, the tractor that loaded us up and pulled us out once again picked us up back onto dry land where we headed back to the base. After some juice & cookies, we decided to try to head towards Nelson so to best utilize the wine tasting experience. However our plan to get to Blenheim failed as we were just too tired to keep going past Nelson. We settled in for the night only to discover the sink is not draining and we don’t have the energy to deal with it. Tomorrow…….

Posted by tc2009 15:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Mahaura

sunny 13 °C

Today we decided to venture to Golden Bay as some fellow travelers recommended it for the views and scenery. Imagine our surprise when we awoke to an intact van (no Ork damage) and no registry box for us to pay and register. This was the first DOC site we encountered with this issue and we were hesitant on what to do. We concluded they had “winterized” the site and took out the kiosk. On the way out, we encountered our first sheep-lock. Albeit it was only two sheep blocking our path it was still a sheep-lock! They ran away before the camera could wake up thoughwe so that was a little bit unfortunate. It’s a good thing we drove the road in the dark last night because if we went through in the daylight, it could be pretty much guaranteed Chrissy would have made Tom turn back.

It came to no surprise that the road leading to Golden Bay was in fact, steep & windy. And it is guaranteed that when one comes upon a twisty corner one is sure to meet a semi truck barreling around at the same time. Terrifying! We made it to Tanaka in one piece and stopped in at the iSite where the man suggested we go to see Pupu Springs, reputed to be the world’s clearest water, and the Abel Tasman Memorial. The springs were truly spectacular and you could see to the bottom. Hmm imagine what would happen if the lake was that clear, we could market Ogopogo tours and profit huge! We popped over to Golden Bay where the Abel Tasman Memorial was set up and after exploring the golden sandy beaches (water is incredibly warm!) we hiked up to the memorial. The view was stunning and it was interesting to learn more about the man who first discovered NZ.

On the way back to Motueka, Tom decided that everyone at home should experience the joys of NZ roads and thus taped the entire journey back. Look for it when it makes it to DVD on our return. Once back, we decided to head down to Marahau to check out kayaking for tomorrow. We ended up booking a full day tour in the Abel Tasman park which sees us paddling for two hours and hiking for two & a half hours before catching a water taxi back to base. After booking, we decided to head down the road to ‘Old McDonald’s Farm’ campground where we set up camp in the Bull Paddock amongst wandering kamikazi chickens and lazy llamas.

We decided to walk along the beach as its low tide and it was quite the fun experience! Tom got some great photos and Chrissy tried to dig for seafood for dinner but alas she failed much to Tom’s relief. It’s a quiet night tonight as Chrissy is battling her first mosquito bite and Tom is engrossed in his book. Have to be up early anyways so we are off to bed now!

Posted by tc2009 15:08 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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